Country music has taken a pounding the past week with the deaths of Buddy Emmons, Lynn Anderson, and Top Billing International president and noted Nashville executive Tandy Rice. Add to that list the legendary producer Billy Sherrill.
Sherrill, a 2010 Country Music Hall of Fame inductee, died yesterday (8/4) after a short illness.
Although hailed as one of the most important producers in Nashville during the "countrypolitan" era of the late 60's and 70's, Sherrill was also a noted songwriter. Among the award-winning songs he co-wrote: "A Very Special Love Song," "Almost Persuaded," and "Stand By Your Man."
His work as a producer, however, will undoubtably be his lasting legacy. From Elvis Costello's album of country covers, Almost Blue, to Tammy Wynette's legendary hits, Sherrill was simply a genius in the recording studio. Nearly every act he recorded said as much. The evidence is in the rich, full sound of the records that defined country music in the late 60's and early 70's.
Then there was "He Stopped Loving Her Today."
The story is legendary, how George Jones balked at the notion of recording the Bobby Braddock song. "It's too damn morbid," Jones complained. Sherrill held firm, in the end giving Jones a number one hit and country music what, to many, is its defining song.
Billy Sherrill was 78.